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date: 12 April 2024


The Oxford Companion to Medicine
Alan E. H. EmeryAlan E. H. Emery, Marcia H. L. EmeryMarcia H. L. Emery

From earliest times human disease and its treatment have attracted the attention of artists. This may have been because of the supposed mystical significance of certain diseases, but in most cases because the subject itself was intrinsically fascinating. Attitudes to malformations and diseases, however, have not always been the same. For example, dwarfs in Pharaonic Egypt were characterized by normal faces and very short limbs, in Ancient Greece by snub-noses and prominent foreheads, and in Rome they were often depicted with an over-large phallus. More recently, as in many of Velázquez's paintings, dwarfs are shown much more sympathetically, as well as more realistically. Furthermore, the artist's intention has sometimes been to use allegorical allusions for a very specific purpose in portraying medical matters. This is particularly true in Dutch genre paintings of the 17th century. In more modern times, as art has become less representational, so paintings have increasingly come to reflect the artist's ... ...

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